A year defined and caged by a measurement, and constrained by time, could never explain the revelations, or cover the cost of my silent frustrations.
A year deconstructed has reconstructed my future. I uncovered destruction and survived devastation, to uncover the truth in my inner voice, and reawaken the power of my choice.
It was never in my plan to become a casualty of abuse at the hands of a broken man making one more excuse. I was held hostage and imprisoned by my low self-esteem. Living a life I had never envisioned, so far from my dream.
When I was 22, almost 23, no matter how they tried, nobody could get through to me. People tried to bargain and beg and plead. I said love conquers all.
If you had asked me when I was 12 or 13 if I would stay with a person who was hurting me, I would have been offended.
How could you even have to ask?
I’ll be a strong woman, I’ll be independent, and I am better than that.
Yesterday I rushed out of my car, looking over my shoulder as I slid in the door.
I quickly latched the deadbolt, then said to myself, “He can’t hurt you anymore.”
Sometimes when I leave I don’t even bother with that lock.
Because I am not even afraid of my apartment getting robbed.
But every time I enter my home,
I lock that door, I fear the most when I am alone.
Some nights I am so thirsty for air my lungs feel like I was sleeping in a desert.
Those are the mornings where wakefulness is my oasis and each breath is a replenishing gulp.
Some nights are peaceful and I wake up feeling safe.
I find myself relieved when morning finally breaks, and the sun slides through the broken blinds.
That’s when it beams up my bed and kisses my face.
Those rays of warmth are full of forgiving grace.
I am 23 and almost 24, if you asked me today if I would stay with a person who is hurting me, I’d ask you not to judge me, please.
I’d tell you about how I did.
I’d tell you about the shame, the guilt, and the fear.
I’d tell you with much conviction, as long as you were patient and willing to listen.
I’d tell you how I didn’t really know, until it happened to me, and I’d tell you how much value my intuition has to me.
I am 23 and almost 24, but I will never be the same person I was before, and I am not broken.
I learned to bend and I learned to sway, I kept my roots, and I found the sun even on the darkest day.
A year taught me how to survive, heal, and grow.
Whether he was dragging me down the gravel driveway as I tried to escape, or whether I was willingly running back to the arms that had just given me a concussion an hour before, something kept compelling me to stay. Words cannot explain how I felt trapped. Language cannot contain my desperation. Abuse isn’t constant and in between the assaults I became complacent.
I had very little self-worth to begin with, so I accepted the worst.
I didn’t know I was living in the breeding ground for a dangerous toxicity.
I didn’t realize the weight of the crushing negativity.
I had no idea that each verbal attack was shrinking my self-esteem.
I had never even heard of the term gas lighting.
It was like a roller coaster and even at the lowest lows we would always get back to the top. Even the most terrible of times got back to good. Or so I thought.
My memories reveal so much stifled sadness and denial.
I was afraid of being alone.
Looking back, though, I never felt more truly alone than those silent spaces, sitting next to him, swallowing my thoughts for fear of causing upset.
I used to try and set up the stage with my false sense of security.
But there was so much damage being done in between the acts and behind the scenes.
The day I almost died, I found my future waiting in the wings.
It was my time to write the script and begin directing.
I didn’t want to go out like that, begging for my life where nobody could hear me scream.
I didn’t want to die upstairs in that farm house, on my knees, struggling to breathe.
I didn’t want my last words to be, “STOP. PLEASE.”
I swore if I made it out alive that I’d never return.
I had kept waiting for things to get better but they were only getting worse.
And I knew that next time they got worse that meant I could die.
I knew it wasn’t really love, and it wasn’t worth my life.
I am so thankful to be a survivor and not a statistic.
I have the chance to make a tragedy into a triumph, and help other victims.
It used to feel like a meaningless struggle but it’s given me purpose and my perspective is a choice.
Once l looked at the past, carefully dissected, I discovered the value in my voice and the worth of my words.